For the last three weeks, the coast of New Jersey–my home state–has been alive. The amount of bunker (a.k.a. menhaden) schooled up for miles on end was simply staggering, and the number of stripers eating among these schools has been tremendous. Friends and charter captains were having 15-, 20-, even 30-fish mornings day in and day out. Then my buddy Dave James from Rapala flew in from Minnesota to catch his first striper and my phone went crazy on the day he was arriving. I heard many phrases like: “Dude, the bunker and the bass are gone. They just disappeared!”


During our first morning of fishing, as we bobbed around on a flat ocean roasting in the heat, I pondered again how all the life here two days ago could have vanished. But it did. Dave, having been hanging on the epic reports prior to flying in just laughed it off. “You guys can thank me now, or you can thank me later,” he said. “This kind of thing happens to me everywhere I go.”

Though I can’t say I always bring a shift in action whenever I roll into town, it happens to me a lot, too. If the bite is hot, the wind picks up. If the wind stays calm, the temperature plummets. If everything is perfect, the boat will probably break down. Now luckily for Dave, it all turned around on the second and third days of his visit, and I sent him home to Minnesota with couple nice bass under his belt, including the 31-pounder above. But now that it’s over I can admit it…I was very nervous on the first striper-less day.